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the black thumb

The Black Thumb (Professor Molly Mysteries) (Volume 3)
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press (April 18, 2016)
ISBN-13: 978-1943476183


When a violent death disrupts the monthly meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society, Professor Molly Barda has no intention of playing amateur detective. But Molly’s not just a witness-the victim is Molly’s house guest and grad-school frenemy. And Molly quickly finds to her dismay that her interest in the murder of the stylish and self-centered Melanie Polewski is more than just…academic.


What initially got you interested in writing?

One day back in 2011, I was exercising on the elliptical machine and reading a popular cozy mystery. As I pedaled, I found myself mentally editing the book: “Don’t show everyone laughing and laughing; either the line was funny or it wasn’t.” “You’re spending way too much time on the cat.” Finally I realized I should just go write my own book. That’s how The Musubi Murder came to be.


What genres do you write in? Right now I write cozy mysteries. I have the Professor Molly books and I write novellas in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune world. And this summer, I started putting together coloring books of vintage art. Some of the images, like the Aubrey Beardsley drawings, are gorgeous. Others are delightfully bizarre.


What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I write what I like to read; amusing mysteries where the sex and violence takes place offstage.


How did you break into the field? 

My big break was a contract from Five Star for The Musubi Murder. I was familiar with their parent company, Cengage, because I’d used their textbooks in my classes. They were wonderful to work with. They got me high-profile reviews (all of which were positive, fortunately!) and a lot of library sales. They discontinued their mystery line shortly after publishing my book (it wasn’t my fault, I swear!), but having that first book with them was a great way to launch.


What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

Part of the pleasure of reading is learning about places, hobbies, and jobs you might otherwise never experience. Like any profession, academia has its heroes and martyrs, its knaves and fools, and its own perverse incentives. These can make for some uniquely funny situations. Readers also get a glimpse of everyday life in Hawaii outside the touristy spots.


What do you find most challenging about writing? 

How little control I have over my creativity. Sometimes writing is a joy, but other times trying to get ideas from my brain onto the page feels like trying to wring water out of a dry sponge.


What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

1) Read well-written books. Lots of them. Both in and outside your genre.

2) Connect with other authors in your genre for moral support, advice, and, when you’re ready, cooperative opportunities like book bundles.


Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

When I set out to write my protagonist, Molly Barda, I made her comically neurotic and obsessive, because I thought a “realistic” character would be boring. Now everyone thinks she’s me.


What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?


Frankie Bow
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Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.

In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

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